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Important Terms to Know: Antimicrobial Stewardship

Practice Accelerator
March 18, 2024

Antibiogram: A periodic summary of antibiotic susceptibility to common bacteria taken from specimens within a specific facility.

Antibiotic: An agent used to treat infections, specifically bacterial infections.

Antibiotic timeout: A systemic evaluation of antibiotic use in a given patient case, triggered after a set period (possibly 48-72 hours) of initial treatment, to determine if current treatment should change or cease.

Antimicrobial: A general term for clinical agents that combat microbes.

Antimicrobial resistance: When bacteria, fungi, parasites, or other microorganisms mutate and no longer respond to antimicrobial medications. This resistance makes infection difficult to treat and can increase the risk of spreading serious diseases.

Antimicrobial stewardship program: A coordinated set of strategies and protocols designed to optimize the use of antimicrobial agents. Such programs and efforts aim to minimize antimicrobial-resistant infections, reduce adverse drug events, and improve patient outcomes.

Broad-spectrum antibiotic: An antibiotic that can act against a wide range of bacterial types. This may be employed initially for a short period of time until diagnostic data such as culture results are available to choose a more targeted antibiotic.


Culture: A laboratory test that identifies organisms in a sample. It grows and monitors bacteria or other cells in a special growth medium to achieve identification.

Culture and sensitivity: An enhanced test that identifies organisms, as in a culture, but also tests the response of the sampled organisms to various antibiotic agents.

Empiric therapy: A treatment course decided upon based on clinical experience, not based on precise knowledge of the cause or pathogen. In wound care, empiric antibiotic therapy may be used when there is a strong suspicion for infection, but only for a short period until culture results are available.

Infection: The invasion and multiplication of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites with an associated host reaction. Signs of infection may include redness, tenderness, warmth, odor, erythema, swelling, fever, pain, and increased white blood cell counts.

Narrow-spectrum antibiotic: An antibiotic that acts against a targeted, narrow range of bacteria. Appropriate use of narrow spectrum antibiotics treats the specific pathogen, and not unnecessarily cover other organisms not involved in the infection.

Pathogen: An organism that causes disease or pathology in a host.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author, and do not represent the views of WoundSource, HMP Global, its affiliates, or subsidiary companies.